“The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”
I’ve already written about this at length, so I’ll try not to repeat myself. Each year we spend with grief is different. Some years slip by almost unnoticed – a moment of silence during a day like any other, a twinge of guilt that things seemed so normal. Other years are devastating, in ways you’d never imagined. One year’s devastation is dissimilar to the last. One year you fight the urge to drink yourself to death. The next, you find yourself attempting to destroy every relationship with anyone who cares about you. But nothing will ease the discomfort of living the rest of your life without the ones you love. There’s no path back to normal, only the more treacherous path forward that must be found without destroying those around you.
From the time I was small, I’ve been keenly aware of the weight of history, the impact and importance that human history has in our collective life as a species. But it wasn’t until I was older that I realized our own lives can become laden with our small, seemingly insignificant histories, the weight of which can and often does drag us down. The longer we live, the heavier the weight becomes, and the more we see nothing but the past when we look at others.
Which is where faith comes in. Faith and hope are bound together in the hearts of all of us. They are seemingly inextricable. But can faith exist without hope? Can we believe in something better when life just seems so pointless?
“Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit
of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still”
I used to say, “I have faith that one day I will hope.” Sometimes that has to be enough. Faith does not grow without maintenance, however, and we have to try. We have to put one foot in front of the other, to seek out what we believe, in order to come to a place where hope is real. Where belief is a tangible thing. In that place, we find ourselves – not as we imagine ourselves to be, not the selves we project upon the world, but the self that God sees and still loves, regardless of faults. It’s a lifetime of trying, of learning, of loving, of failing, of losing, of hurting, of guilt, of regret, of joy.
But this is a good life. This is a life worth living.
“Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.”